Some thoughts on painting & boldness


I approach each canvas with no such boldness but with the hope that I will be the medium through which the painting that wants to be painted paints itself. I don’t know if that is bold or just hopeful. Hope doesn’t strike one as a very bold sentiment, though, as the world darkens, it is a rare and bold thing that persists.

For me (right now) painting is a way of recording and expressing my energy (also building & releasing energy). The end result is not so important. At this tentative stage, placing too much importance on the finished piece has me stop painting altogether, too unsure that I’ll be able to paint anything good. When I like a painting I have done, it’s a bonus. I try not to expect it and maybe this is more my tendency to hedge my bets than anything else. Yes, I want to paint masterpieces and brilliant works very much! But it’s OK if that never happens… It’s Ok if I’m not able to… Determination dulled by the fear of failing. Where’s the hope and boldness in that? In hedging bets and painting anyway? One part of me paints, hopefully, boldly, while the other peers over my shoulder, not sure I’ll be able to pull it off.

When I was done, I looked at the painting with none of O’Keeffe’s boldness in it. Maybe that in itself is a kind of boldness. I am not Georgia O’Keeffe and my goal is not to paint like O’Keeffe but to paint like myself. Occasionally I paint something very good. By ‘good’ I mean that it is the precise expression of what I wanted to create, in precisely the right colors and form. It’s a very personal ‘good’ and others might see it outside of that definition. It’s so good that I am envious of it. I am envious of what it took to paint that painting and unsure whether I will ever have it again. I am envious of my own experience of the right colors and splashes and lines arriving at just the right time. This is when I know best that there are many versions of myself. The part of me who paints a great painting is not the same part of me that goes to work and does a good job. That part of me still wonders if I’ll be able to pull it off next time. They coexist but they are not the same. The one who goes to work is envious of the one who paints. In this way, I meet who I am. I greet my fullness. I welcome her.

Painting is one of the ways I come back to myself, or rather how the self buried inside is coaxed slowly back out to the surface. Perhaps an undefined scene, yet secure in its color (I knew the colors–I came without boldness but I came with the colors) is the precise reflection of myself at this time. As my soul and spirit boldly arrive in the world, perhaps that will be reflected in my paintings with bolder definition, shape and color.